The Garden of Wisdom: Earth Tales from the Middle East
Reviewed by Katie Green
December 1, 2019
Edited by Michael J. Caduto, illustrated by Odelia Liphshiz. Green Heart Books, 2018. 158 pages. $26.95/hardcover; $19.95/paperback; $9.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 7–12.
Storyteller and environmental educator Michael Caduto has edited another fine book that First-day teachers will want to add to the meeting library. The Garden of Wisdom: Earth Tales from the Middle East is a collection of 18 folktales and stories that he collected when he was invited to the area by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Palestine Wildlife Society. Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan are all represented in the book, which is intended for young people aged 7 to 12, and will also be of interest to adults.
The reader is introduced to this anthology through the eyes of an egret. In the first story, “Taking Flight,” the graceful bird flies over the land, as rivers and seas below are named and described. It is a world without countries or borders, a world where everything is shared by all living things. Caduto’s love of the natural world emphasizes that nature does not draw lines between countries. The resources encourage readers to consider the cost of war to the environment.
The stories are grouped into five themes: animals, plants, friendship, stewardship, and wisdom. Under the Stewardship section, “Thanking God for All Things” is a South Sinai Bedouin story that will resonate with many Friends. The story ends with a moral about caring for our elders and thanking God for our blessings.
A special section for parents and teachers complements the stories. It includes resources about the stories, storytellers, and nature. Caduto plans to publish a teacher’s guide that will further enrich the book. His purpose is to encourage young people to care about the earth and all of our natural resources.
Friends may wish to place this book beside Caduto’s popular title, Keepers of the Animals: Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children (1991), written with Joseph Bruchac. More information about Michael Caduto is available at his website p-e-a-c-e.net.
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